Here are some ideas to start helping you think about all the things that you want to be. And you can be more than one. There’s proof all around you.
Don’t be afraid to start at the beginning.
The suggested activities below are all connected by one main concept — exposure. You don’t know what you don’t know, so you need to put yourself in situations you’ve never been in before. Once you’ve done that — you’re ready to start putting the pieces together.
1. Create a personal manifesto — Orient it around career. Questions to get you started:
- What kind of impact do I want to have on the world around me?
- How much money do I really need to be happy?
- What is something I want to accomplish before I die?
- Do I like working in a team or on my own?
- Do I want to be talking or working for most of my work?
- What am I good at that I enjoy doing?
- What am I good at that I don’t doing?
- Who am I not?
- How many hours do I want to spend working and sleeping?
- If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to do?
2. Find mentors — The best way to fail fast is to learn from others who have walked in your shoes. The important thing to realize, however, is that you need to find mentors who you admire/agree with. You can find mentors of all sorts, who will have different opinions about your life journey. Find mentors who have the experiences you want to live.
- Use your university’s alumni mentorship service (UVA Alumni Mentorship)
- Cold-contact people on LinkedIn to build a mentor relationship
- Find anyone’s email using these tools
- Then cold-email like a pro
This is what human networking is. Genuinely trying to get to know people, their work, and their companies. Networking is often viewed as a sleazy sweet-talking activity — but you’ve only heard that from people who are doing it all wrong.
3. Build (real) experiences — People automatically think that real experience means getting an internship. And internships are competitive, therefore it’s difficult to build real experience. There’s so much more that you can do though:
- Work on a project — Didn’t get a web design internship? Build a website
- Talk to real professionals — See “find mentors” above
- Work micro-internships — Get mini-work experiences
- Shadow someone — Shadow someone in a field you’re interested in
- Go to conferences — Conferences are amazing ways to meet people
- Volunteer your time — Find a project you care about and volunteer
- Join an club — Interested in consulting? Join a consulting club
6. Reflect, Reflect, Reflect — You don’t have to write. Just check in with yourself. The answers to these questions will start to illuminate the many things that you’re “passionate” about
- What are moments/activities where you forget to check your phone?
- What are activities where the time just seems to literally fly by?
- What do you think is important work to be doing?
- What would you willingly read a 1,000 page book about?